Not that they’d be the first band to pad their résumé in their one-sheet, but even by industry standards, Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’s backstory tests the threshold of plausibility. Sophia Cacciola and Michael Epstein themselves don’t seem to believe that they began their rock careers after growing disenchanted with jobs at an unspecified US intelligence agency. They act as if it were just a joke. A shtick.
Hmmmm . . . .
Wouldn’t a ’60s-spy-show-themed rock band make a brilliant cover story for legit former spies hiding in plain sight? Don’t nudges and winks render information impossible to take seriously? Wouldn’t it be clever to conceal a dangerous reality by disguising it as bullshit disguised as truth?
Cacciola and Epstein likely haven’t been up to any actual cloak-and-dagger shenanigans. Then again, as is the case with The Prisoner (the eminent 1967-’68 British TV series from which Do Not Forsake cull their lyrical inspiration), doubts linger as to what is true and what is not.
Cacciola claims to daylight as a “secretary.” It’s hardly a rock-solid alibi. She also admits that the tasks she attends to while on the clock aren’t always secretarial. That aside, wouldn’t a real secretary call herself an “administrative assistant,” or something more important-sounding? Perhaps her lyrics are rooted in more first-hand experience than she lets on?
“I like watching something, digesting it, and thinking about what I want to say within those themes.” That’s the word from this rare drummer/songwriter/frontperson composite, as she sips coffee in the Somerville home she shares with Epstein. “Otherwise, I have to write from personal experience, or something very boring.” Unveiled last month, Do Not Forsake’s inaugural EP, The New Number 2, offers clamorous, jangling, riffy weirdness topped by Cacciola’s husky sing-shouting. It makes a fine choice for anyone who wants to enjoy six noisy rock songs, or anyone who’s being chased by an ominous, ever-present nonentity.
Thus far in their slightly less-than-a-year run, Do Not Forsake — who play the Middle East this Saturday — have recorded a song for five of The Prisoner’s 17 episodes, intend to assign a track to each of the other 12, and haven’t decided what they’ll do when it’s time to write their 18th song. Not that it’ll matter — for all the pop-cultural allusions in the presentation, they could sing about watching water boil and they’d still stand out. Whereas other bands cram 20 friggin’ persons on stage at their shows, or rely on technology to fill out their sound, Cacciola and Epstein get a lot done with as few tools as possible. The singer doubles as drummer. The bass, jacked into a guitar amp, plays the highs and the lows, though never simultaneously.
“It’s weird for people,” Epstein observes. “They’re like, ‘Well, there’s no low end at this moment,’ or, ‘There’s no high end at this moment!’ It makes them uncomfortable.”
“We thought about getting a third person, but this way, it makes us more creative,” explains Cacciola. “We really want to build dynamics, quiet parts and loud parts. It’s harder to do that with two people, but it makes it more interesting.”
Epstein: “They get really upset. I don’t think it’s a personal thing. Some people are like, ‘Well, I hear a guitar part!’ ”